Effective identity and access management (IAM) can help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, protect sensitive information, and ensure regulatory compliance. All vital and necessary aspects of safeguarding your networks and systems from threat actors.
However, there are several common mistakes that organizations make when implementing IAM, which can lead to vulnerabilities and result in breaches. In this blog, we will discuss four critical IAM mistakes that organizations must avoid to better protect their organization.
1. Accumulating Technical Debt with Poor Identity Management
Technical debt, often the result of poor IAM practices, can accumulate over time. According to a TechNative study, 66% of respondents reported that technical debt is “the most prevalent negative impact of poor identity data management.”
For example, missing identity and access management policies may be difficult to add to existing systems because you’ll be missing critical identity information to accurately enable privileged user access.
Without comprehensive pre-planned IAM policies, your employees will likely be granted access on a one-off basis. This can lead to duplicated, outdated, or risky accounts (with weak passwords or a high risk level) that can be compromised by outside threat actors.
2. Not Enforcing Strict Identity and Access Governance
Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) encompasses the policies, procedures, and guidelines detailing how a company should manage user identities and access rights. The problem is, IGA is labor intensive. Therefore, managers often allow historical access to continue unabated for many workers, even as conditions and job responsibilities change.
Consider this example. Say an employee in the billing department—who has access to a company’s invoices and payments—switches job roles and begins working in the human resources department. There is no longer any reason for this employee to access the company’s invoices. However, it’s possible managers might fail to remove this employee’s historical access to these privileged billing accounts. This unwarranted access can lead to governance and compliance issues down the road, including potential security breaches. In fact, a recent survey reports that 38% of respondents believe meeting compliance requirements is a top IAM challenge.
3. Allowing Identity Sprawl to Take Over
In the age of remote work, identity sprawl is no longer a novelty. To put it simply, identity sprawl occurs when workers have multiple accounts and identities that are then managed by many systems. A 2021 study revealed that “84% of respondents had more than double the number of user identities than 10 years ago, with 51% reporting they used more than 25 different systems for identity management.”
Having poor visibility over your accounts and worker identities leads to inefficient (and ineffective) identity and access management. To make matters worse, without visibility into user identities and their associated risk at the time of authentication and authorization, the chances of letting an adversary in and allowing them to achieve persistence increase.
4. Failing to Consider the Human Element and Associated Risk
According to the Verizon 2022 DBIR, 82% of breaches involve the human element. This includes risks associated with employee behavior, such as password sharing, social engineering, and insider threats.
One of the most significant IAM mistakes you can make is failing to consider human risk as you identify and authorize access. Cyentia recently found that only 8% of employees represent 80% of the human risk associated with cyber security. These high-risk workers are much more likely to fall victim to phishing attacks or other social engineering tactics.
To address the human risk element of identity and access management, security teams must implement the right security tools. Consider Elevate Identity, for example.
Elevate Identity adds comprehensive user risk information that enriches traditional identity data and signals, providing 360° risk visibility during authentication, authorization, and access reviews.
By infusing identity and access management and identity governance technology with Elevate data, security teams can:
- Significantly reduce account takeover attacks
- Slash the amount of time an adversary can maintain persistence in your environment
- Automate and improve conditional access policies, real-time access evaluations based on threat signals, and intelligent entitlement review workflows
➡️ Learn more about Elevate Identity—download our product brief.
Implementing effective identity and access management practices and tools is critical to protecting organizations from cyber threats and data breaches. And with today’s remote workforce, robust IAM solutions are hardly a luxury, they’re a must-have. Yet, common mistakes like the ones described above lead to security vulnerabilities, potentially leaving your organization wide open to threat actors.
Elevate Security can help you strengthen your IAM. Book a demo to see our solution in action and to discuss your unique needs for smarter IAM.